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March 17, 2010
How to Calculate a Priority Garnishment for an Employee

In a BLR webinar entitled ‘Payroll: How to Legally Handle Tax Levies and Garnishments’, attorneys Clint Robison and Amy Jensen explain how a priority garnishment can be calculated for an employee. The payroll department will have information regarding maximum garnishments that are applicable to the employee’s earnings such as the following:

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  • Weekly earnings of $217.50 or less: No garnishment
  • Weekly earnings of $217.51 - $290: $$ Above $217.50
  • Weekly earnings of $290 or more: Max 25%
If an employee has $295 in disposable earnings per week, a garnishment order with priority for $90 per week for child support and a garnishment order for defaulted student loan, the maximum garnishment based on wages will be $73.75. However, normal restrictions do not apply to orders for support so the whole $90 can be taken. There will be no withholding for the student loan. However, if the priority for child support was $50 instead of $90, then $50 will be used to settle the child support garnishment while $23.75 will go towards the student loan garnishment.

Clint Robison is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Hinshaw & Culbertson, one of the largest and oldest law firms in the country. He can be reached at Amy Jensen is a senior employment attorney in the firm's Los Angeles office and she can be reached at

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